During the late 19th century, the discovery of rich deposits of natural resources in the Midwest positioned the region for prosperity. Mining, metallurgy and manufacturing grew rapidly hand in hand. Today, careers in metallurgy are prevalent in the region, making it a strong area of focus and attracting those interested in the study of metals. The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) at The Ohio State University (OSU) is no exception—so much so that the DMSE revamped their curriculum to extend and improve students’ learning experiences.
Recently, OSU’s DSME requested a sponsorship to assist with the purchase of a hot-roll mill system for the new Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) teaching laboratory. As the largest university in the state where Worthington is headquartered, and in a field of expertise for our Company, this was an attractive request. It also aligned with Our Philosophy and was a great opportunity to support our greater community.
The DMSE had recently made a significant investment to improve its undergraduate program and capabilities, including the construction of Mars G. Fontana Laboratories, an all-new undergraduate teaching lab. New equipment was necessary to improve the educational experiences and learning opportunities for students in thermochemical processing, a field of study within metallurgy, including a critical need to replace its 40-year-old lab-scale rolling mill.
“A lab-scale rolling mill, like OSU was requesting, allows sample sizes of metals to be processed and then evaluated for changes to its properties at a metallurgical level,” explained Ben Reed, director of Technical Services at Worthington. “It’s a quick and cost-effective way to get a depiction of what will happen on a larger scale, but it’s also great for students to experiment with chemical processing and get hands-on experience.”
There are two common types of rolling: hot and cold. Hot rolling, as its name implies, consists of processing metals at high temperatures, allowing the metal to be reshaped and formed easily and free from internal stresses. Cold rolling is performed using cooled hot-rolled metals, and processes the metal at or near room temperature, strengthening it and allowing for more control over shape and surface finishes.
“OSU’s MSE lab was using a really old cold-roll mill, which was limiting the materials and experimentation capabilities,” said Andy Hamilton, manager, Technical Services at Worthington. “They wanted a hot roll mill with an inline furnace so students could get more hands-on experience with a wider range of processing and analysis.”
"From our undergrad curriculum to senior capstone projects to graduate research groups—the capabilities and instrumentation on this lab-scale rolling mill allow us to do experiments, both in teaching and research, that were not possible before.”
Elvin Beach, Clinical Associate Professor, OSU Department of Materials Science and Engineering
The new, custom-built rolling mill was added in late 2021 and has been an integral part of learning for OSU’s MSE students. And there’s a lot of promising ideas in the works for continued collaboration to keep this partnership strong.
As for OSU’s old equipment: it continues to serve an important purpose. The cold-roll mill was refurbished and rehomed to Worthington’s Columbus, Ohio steel plant, where it’s used for testing and research. It is partnerships and strong connections like these that prove truly impactful for our community—and enable the development of our industry.